Why does looking after your teeth reduce the risk of dementia?


Good oral health is not just about healthy teeth and mouth – it can also impact your cognitive abilities.

Researchers from New York University reveal that with each tooth lost, there is an increase risk of cognitive impairment. 

Those with tooth loss were found to have a 1.48 times higher risk of developing cognitive issues – and 1.28 times more likely to develop dementia. 

Higher risk

But why is this? 

Some experts suggest that missing teeth can impact chewing, which, in turn, can lead to deficiencies in nutrition. 

Other suggestions include a link made between cognitive impairment and gum disease. 

Similarly tooth loss socioeconomic disadvantages that are also risk factors for cognitive decline.

Deeper understanding

Interestingly the study found that those with missing teeth were more likely to suffer from cognitive issues if they did not use dentures (23.8%). Those who did use dentures had a lower risk (16.9%). 

For every tooth missing there was a 1.4% increase in risk of cognitive impairment and 1.1% risk of dementia diagnosis.

Bei Wu is the study’s senior author and Dean's Professor in Global Health at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

'Given the staggering number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia each year, and the opportunity to improve oral health across the lifespan, it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of the connection between poor oral health and cognitive decline,' she said.

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